03 Mar 2022

£5.27 million Community Renewal Fund set to transform the region under East Midlands Accelerator project

Businesses across the East Midlands are set to receive a boost in support on jobs, entrepreneurship and growth post-Covid with the roll-out of grant funding and innovation support under the UK Government’s Community Renewal Fund (UKCRF).

East Midlands Chamber won a bid last autumn to deliver £5.27m of support, in partnership with the region’s universities, specialist support organisations and local authorities. The Chamber is matching funds of £491,000 to the project.

What the East Midlands Accelerator involves

The East Midlands Accelerator, as the programme is to be known, is running now until the end of June 2022, and is being delivered under five strands:

1. Net Zero Accelerator to help businesses gain green business skills, invest in net zero business practices, and access financial support to start their journey towards net zero or carbon neutrality.

2. Digital Transformation Accelerator to help businesses implement digital and e-commerce solutions, become online bookable, and drive market town footfall.

3. Start Up to Scale Up Accelerator to deliver specialist mentoring and provide financial support to help start-ups launch a new business or product.

4. Kickstart Accelerator to offer training and mentoring support to improve job retention, as well as a wage subsidy to convert a Kickstart or Graduate placement into a new sustained job.

5. Financial Accelerator to offer grants of up to £8,000 (covering 80% of costs) to help businesses adopt digital solutions, introduce carbon reduction solutions or provide a wage subsidy to support Kickstart or Graduate job retention. Growth vouchers of up to £2,000 will be available for consultancy advice to support business growth or to undertake specialist training.

Support is now being delivered in those areas identified by Government as being in particular need – namely Derbyshire Dales and High Peak, Mansfield, Bassetlaw, Newark and Sherwood, Nottingham city, and Leicester city – between now and the end of June.

There is a wealth of opportunities for businesses to get involved, whether it be tapping into training on carbon literacy, free regulatory and compliance advice, graduate student placement projects, or the implementation of digital technologies.

CRF pilots new approach to post-EU funding

Diane Beresford, deputy chief Executive at East Midlands Chamber, said: “This is an exciting time for the East Midlands as we look beyond the EU funding arrangements of old.

“The East Midlands Accelerator allows us to pilot a new approach to funding, and without the need for overly-prescriptive guidelines. Unlike the former ESF (European Social Fund) and ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) grants, we’re now able to fund training and the stimulation of economic growth under one programme.

“It’s a much simpler and quicker process to navigate, with businesses being invited to put forward an application that focuses on what they need to grow.

“If their adviser, based at the Chamber or at one of our consortium partner organisations, considers the application worthy of endorsement and we can show that a job will be created in the business as a result, it will be put forward for consideration.

“Importantly, this approach means that all key business support bodies in our region are working together to achieve one common goal of business acceleration.

“The Chamber’s role in connecting business audiences to the right partners at the right time is an important one. On our Kickstart scheme alone, we outperformed other regions by placing more than 1,950 individuals. We’re looking to replicate that success on a much wider scale through the East Midlands Accelerator project.”